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Small (very) Business Network Setup


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#1 5228238

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 09:09 AM

I have the duty of getting information on setting up a network in our very small office. We have four PCs that are peer-to-peer at this point but are considering getting a server to hold our files and programs. We may also want this server to connect our internet. We are currently on a wireless system. First of all, I have no experience with this sort of thing and don't really understand how it all works. Can someone give me some advice on 1) what hardware we need; 2) what software we need; 3) how everything works together; and 4) will it work with our current PCs? Thanks all!

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#2 Snapper

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 09:06 PM

hmmm, well question time!
what do you want the server to do?
what are you running that you need to share? ex: simply accounting/quickbooks/custom software/print/fax
you have a router i assume as you are running wireless p2p network. even in a peer to peer network you are actually running a client/server enviornment, which is why i asked you what you wanted a server to do. a server does exactly that, serves information, whether it is web site, mail, data , etc. you may be referring to a Network Operating System (NOS), which has an active directory you log into and permissions are set there for various operations. for what you characterized as a very small business, this may not be the most efficient way to do things, as a server running a NOS is generally expensive for hardware and software liscencing and isn't used as a workstation. usually reserved for larger business and or confidential network applications. not to say you cant have a secure "p2p" network, but lets say the permissions arent quite as complicated or structured.

help us understand more precisely what you need to do, and we can guide you to the most reasonable solution to your LAN!
dave
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#3 5228238

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 08:02 AM

Dave

Our p2p is sort of messed up. We use word processing, quickbooks, a real estate closing program, excel, a legal billing program, palm hardware/software. My computer is the host for the wp files, but not the program. The program sits on all the computers. I am the only one having excel and quickbooks and the files that go with them. The RE program sits on the 4th computer that no one uses, but is used by 2 other people remotely. I believe the data files are also stored on that 4th computer.

What we ultimately want to accomplish is to have all programs and files centralized so everyone can acces them. Also we are thinking about going "paperless", so a lot of paper files will have to be scanned into the system. I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but I know PDF files tend to be big. We all have internet access through a cable modem attached to a wireless router. Currently our PCs (3) are running on Windows XP, and one laptop on XP - they are all connected via the wireless router.

Thanks for your help.

Linda

#4 acklan

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 03:27 AM

What we ultimately want to accomplish is to have all programs and files centralized so everyone can acces them.


You pretty much have this through your fourth computer with your files. I do not think you would receive any benefit having your programs running from central computer. You could do it but with a substanical expense. Having a common computer with the data files stored on it would be the easiest and most cost efficiant. Unless you want to learn how to configure and maintain a server. You may even want to look at a NAS (Network Attached Storage). It is a hard drive that is housed it it's own case and simply plugged into your LAN.
I would also recommend you have 2 hard drives one as a backup in the event the first fails. It is refered to as "Mirroring". It is a form of backup that you can do with simple backup software.
This can be done with new purpose bought hardware\software or use an old computer setup to share it's directories with the others on the LAN.

Also we are thinking about going "paperless", so a lot of paper files will have to be scanned into the system. I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but I know PDF files tend to be big. We all have internet access through a cable modem attached to a wireless router. Currently our PCs (3) are running on Windows XP, and one laptop on XP - they are all connected via the wireless router.


I would like to make a suggestion, and it is my personal preference. I would wire all my computers and move away from wireless, unless the topographic of your office makes it impractical. While wireless networks can be very secure I still rather hard wired computers and devices where possible.
If these .pdf files are to be available in a database (Fill in the blank) you may not have a choice but to setup a server instead on simple fire sharing.
The size of the .pdf files is only an issue as far as the amount of available hard drive pace on your LAN. With hard drives getting bigger ever month that is limited only by your budget. You can buy 1 terabyte hard drives now (1 Tb = 1024 Gb).
I hope this helps.
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